When cancerous cells form in the tissues of the skin, this is known as skin cancer. Some of the risk factors that put you at a higher risk for developing this disease include having a fair complexion, being treated with radiation, and being exposed to a lot of sunlight. Skin cancer treatment generally involves surgery. In most cases, the cancer is removed completely during biopsy with no further treatment required. The best way to prevent this disease is to protect yourself from the sun and other sources of UV radiation.
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the skin. It is the most common cancer in the United States.
This article will discuss the two most common types of skin cancer, which are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. These types of skin cancer are also called nonmelanoma skin cancer. For more information about melanoma, click Melanoma.
Understanding the Skin
The skin is the body's largest organ. It performs a few different roles:
- It protects the body against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection
- It helps control body temperature
- It stores water, fat, and vitamin D.
The skin has several layers, but the two main layers are the epidermis (upper, or outer layer) and the dermis (lower, or inner layer).
Skin cancer begins in the epidermis, which is made up of three kinds of cells, including:
- Squamous cells: Thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis.
- Basal cells: Round cells that are under the squamous cells.
- Melanocytes: Found in the lower part of the epidermis, these cells make melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural color. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment, causing the skin to tan, or darken.